One of the players Jared Berggren leaned on for advice leading up to the NBA draft was another former post player for the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team.
Greg Stiemsma told Berggren, a 6-foot-10 forward, to not get discouraged if he didn’t hear his name called Thursday night.
Vander Blue, a 6-foot-4 guard, got similar advice from Wesley Matthews. Both players were standouts at Madison Memorial High School and Marquette.
Berggren and Blue weren’t among the 60 selections Thursday night, but they can look at the career paths of Stiemsma and Matthews for inspiration.
After going undrafted in 2008, Stiemsma played overseas and in the NBA’s Development League before landing on his feet with the Boston Celtics in 2011. He signed a two-year, $5.27 million deal with Minnesota last offseason and averaged 4.0 points and 3.4 rebounds in 76 games with the Timberwolves in 2012-13.
Berggren bumped into Stiemsma last month while he was in Minneapolis for a draft workout operated by the Timberwolves.
“He didn’t have a ton of NBA looks when he came out of college, but he just stuck with it,” Berggren said of Stiemsma, a 6-11 Randolph native. “The advice he gave me is, ‘Regardless of what happens in the draft, you have to keep working hard, keep grinding and improving.’ That’s what it took for him to find his way into the NBA.”
Matthews went undrafted in 2009 but was invited to training camp by the Utah Jazz and made the team. He started 48 games and averaged 9.4 points as a rookie and signed a five-year, $32.5 million deal with the Portland Trail Blazers in the summer of 2010. He averaged 14.8 points and a career-high 34.8 minutes per game this past season, his fourth in the league.
Berggren and Blue likely will have several offers to play in the NBA Summer League, which is where Matthews made a good impression and earned a camp invite.
A few seconds after the draft ended, Blue — who bypassed his final season at Marquette to enter the draft — took to Twitter to congratulate the players picked Thursday night and then tweeted, “Ready for summer league.”